Friday, October 16, 2015

Kenneth D. Taylor, In Memoriam

           Kenneth (Ken) D. Taylor, the Canadian Ambassador to Iran who secretly harbored American diplomats from capture during the Iranian Hostage Crisis, died yesterday at the age of 81.

            Taylor was born in Calgary, Canada in 1934 and graduated from the University of Toronto and received an MBA from Berkley University.  Prime Minister Joe Clark, a conservative, appointed Taylor Ambassador to Iran in 1977. 

After the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Iranians seized the United States Embassy and Consulate and took most of the staff hostage, with the acquiescence of the Islamist regime.  A group of six American diplomats eluded capture and were eventually taken in by Taylor.  Some of them stayed with him and some at another Canadian diplomatic residence.  For three months, the intrepid Canadian Ambassador and his staff kept the presence of the Americans secret while tirelessly working with American intelligence personnel to devise an escape.  After Taylor persuaded the Canadian Parliament in an extraordinary secret session to issue fake passports to the American diplomats, their escape from Iran was executed successfully in January of 1980.   

For his efforts, U.S. President Jimmy Carter awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal that year.  Taylor also received numerous awards and citations from Canada.    

            Iran and Canada severed diplomatic relations after the rescue.  Taylor was then named Consul-General to New York City by Clark.  After the completion of his diplomatic service, he returned to his alma mater as a Chancellor and later went into business.  He settled in New York City, becoming an American citizen.  

           The Canadian government’s assistance to the Americans, led by Taylor, stands as a great example of the enduring friendship between Canada and the United States.  May that friendship, personified by Ken Taylor, continue to endure, and may God keep Canada glorious and free and may God bless America!

No comments: